Monday, March 19, 2007

M.P. Wants Charges Dropped

Wayne Easter MP of Malpeque, PEI
The Guardian

Charging a P.E.I. soldier with manslaughter in the death of his friend and comrade in Afghanistan only makes the tragedy even worse, a P.E.I. MP says. Malpeque MP Wayne Easter will meet Monday with Defence Minister Gordon O’Connor to plead the case of Master Cpl. Robbie Fraser, who has been charged in the shooting death of Master Cpl. Jeffrey Walsh during a routine patrol outside of Kandahar on Aug. 9. Easter is also encouraging Canadians who share his concerns to start a petition calling on the Canadian Forces National Investigation Service to drop the charges against Fraser. “Why make a tragedy even worse by inflicting greater pain on the family whose son and husband died because they feel for Robbie Fraser and his family, and also why inflict greater pain on the family of Robbie Fraser, who served Canada well,’’ Easter told The Guardian Friday after meeting with Fraser’s family. The wife of the fallen solider also doesn’t agree with the charges laid against Fraser. Julie Mason said Fraser and her husband were close friends. “I’ve just let Rob know that I’m here for him. He’s going through enough,’’ Mason, a 29-year-old mother of three children, told a Winnipeg-based newspaper. “I don’t agree with what has been given to him as charges go. Rob was a good friend of Jeff, and what is taking place right now I don’t agree with. I can’t go into any more detail as to why I don’t agree, but I don’t.’’ Meanwhile, there has been an outpouring of support for Fraser, who grew up in Cornwall, P.E.I. Dozens and dozens of people have written The Guardian since word of his Island connections were made public in the newspaper Friday. Nearly all the letter writers offered support. Jamie Blacquiere of Charlottetown writes: “Anyone that knows Robbie knows that he would be torn apart by this terrible accident, and now to bring him to the forefront to make an example of him is a slap in the face to his family, his friends and to the country that he so bravely fights for to uphold the freedoms and beliefs that we all enjoy.’’ Others shared childhood memories of Fraser. “I grew up with you and went to school with you and know you are a good person,’’ writes Jimmy from Calgary. “It shocked me this morning to see Robbie’s picture on the front of the paper,’’ Christa writes. “Until today, the solider who accidentally shot his fellow soldier was faceless.’’ Lori Doiron of Halifax had simple words of encouragement: “Robbie, our support and prayers are with you.’’ In his first public interview, Fraser’s father said he believed the military was making an unfair example of his son. Kevin Fraser of South Rustico told The Guardian he believes his son is largely suffering in silence through an ordeal that could end his military career. He met with the Malpeque MP Friday. Manslaughter carries a maximum penalty of life in prison. “He doesn’t let on to us down here as bad as it is but it is weighing heavy on him.’’ Easter said nothing can be gained by charging Fraser. “Making an example of this individual who has lost his best friend — he’s suffering enough as it is wrong.’’

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